Speaking up for women in the workplace
Navigating office gender issues is complicated, but there are ways both men and women can be more supportive of female colleagues, according to Joanne Lipman, author of “That’s What She Said: What Men and Women Need to Know About Working Together.” In an interview with Bloomberg Businessweek, she shares some advice on dealing with the complexities of the gender gap. “If men have questions about appropriate behavior, just ask,” she says. “Women are generally not going to be offended.” Lipman believes women can help other women in the workplace in subtle ways. “First, interrupt the interrupters: Say, ‘Oh, Betsy is speaking. I would love to hear her finish.’ Some companies now have No Interruptions rules. Second, amplify: When a woman says something, another woman repeats her idea, giving her credit by name. And my favorite is brag buddies: Two women recount their achievements to each other, and then each one goes to the boss and brags about the other,” she says.
A new directory lists women in venture capital worldwide
Last week, venture capital investors Sutian Dong and Jessica Peltz-Zatulove introduced their Global Women in VC Directory, an online database of nearly 1,000 women investors. “If you want to continue to promote and elevate women in venture, there needs to be career progression and upward mobility,” Peltz-Zatulove told Inc.’s Guadalupe Gonzalez. “Having this infrastructure enables them to find each other to connect and collaborate in a more efficient way.” The directory’s members currently span 29 countries and 597 venture firms. It is free to join, but only available to those investing in institutional and corporate funds. Typically, members invest in deals for enterprise, health care, fintech and consumer startups. “This is the largest self-reported database for female investors in the world,” Dong said. “We aim to be that connecting tissue—a gateway to other markets for these other women. It’s just transformational.”
Women-led companies are better for employees
Women-led companies are not only better for business, but also better at meeting the overall job satisfaction needs of employees, claims Caroline Castrillon. In a blog post for Forbes, she cites the results of several studies, including one analysis which found that women CEOs in the Fortune 1000 drove three times the returns of S&P 500 enterprises run predominantly by men. Another study, conducted by Berlin Cameron, The Harris Poll and The Female Quotient, revealed that 50 percent of Americans would rather work at a female-led company than a male-led company because they’re more purpose-driven, more likely to have access to childcare, and more likely to offer equal pay. Peakon, a real-time HR insights platform, recently isolated five of the areas in which women-led companies are clearly thriving relative to male-led companies: strategy, mission, belief, communication and autonomy. “Having more females in executive roles is not only fair, but it’s good for business and employees. If organizations around the world can commit to making gender diversity a priority, everyone will win,” Castrillon concludes.
The founders’ effect on gender parity in tech
Tech companies founded by men rarely achieve gender parity in the workforce, while a balanced workforce is the norm among companies started by women, according to a new analysis by recruiter Stellares. At companies with all-male founders, about 14 percent of leadership positions are held by women, while at those started by all-women founders, the split is about even. “So what’s a committed male founder to do? One way to counter the trend is to put women in charge of the HR department. Roi Chobadi, founder and CEO of San Francisco-based Stellares, told Bloomberg. When women make up at least half of the human resources positions, a higher proportion of the company leadership—about 20 percent—will also be women, the analysis found. The same improvements were found in HR departments with increased levels of minority staff.
How to increase gender diversity in insurance leadership
While the value of gender diversity is well recognized, women’s progress into senior business leadership roles remains mixed, argues Allison Dubrow. Dubrow, along with Peter Reed and Bill Pieroni, is the author of a new report, “Increasing Gender Diversity in Insurance Leadership.” In an article in Carrier Management, the authors highlight how insurers can build a more gender-diverse leadership pipeline: 1. Signal the importance of diversity from the top, especially from male leaders. 2. Make leaders accountable for sponsoring and developing women. 3. Foster an environment that welcomes diverse perspectives. The authors also have suggestions for women looking to move into the leadership pipeline in the insurance industry: 1. Speak up about your interests and aspirations. 2. Don’t wait to feel ready. 3. Continue expanding your knowledge. 4. Build relationships. “Truly increasing opportunities for women requires the active participation of male leaders, including setting expectations that they will identify high-potential women and commit to their development,” they write.
The best and worst places for women to work
Women looking to work abroad better scratch Greece off their list and consider Czechia (Czech Republic) instead, according to a new ranking released by InterNations, the world’s largest expat community. “Have you ever gone on a vacation to a beautiful, relaxing place like Greece or Italy and fantasized about living and working there? You might want to think again,” writes Laura Begley Bloom in Forbes. The ranking of best and worst countries for women to work abroad is based on insights of more than 8,000 women who took part in the annual Expat Insider Survey, covering topics such as career prospects, work-life balance and job security. The 10 Best Countries for Women to Work Abroad are: Czechia, Bahrain, Taiwan, Norway, Denmark, Luxembourg, New Zealand, the Netherlands, Malta, and Australia. The 10 Worst Countries for Women to Work Abroad are: Greece, Italy, Serbia, Argentina, Turkey, Myanmar, South Africa, and Romania. The United States ranked 29th out of 57 countries.
230 companies listed on the 2019 Gender-Equality Index
Also at Davos last week, Bloomberg’s Kiersten Barnet shared the 2019 Gender-Equality Index, which recognizes companies for their effort toward reaching gender parity. The index more than doubled in size from 2018 and now features 230 leading companies from 10 sectors across 36 countries. Collectively these firms employ more than 15 million people (including 7 million women) around the world. Argentina, China, Israel and South Africa are among the 13 markets that made the list for the first time this year. “While there’s certainly room for improvement, the index reveals some promising advancements for women,” notes Danielle Westermann King in HR Executive. She cites key findings: 43 percent of all promotions in 2017 were awarded to women, 68 percent of companies evaluate advertising and marketing content for gender bias before publication and 39 percent of companies acted to resolve pay disparities in FY 2017. View the full list of companies (including Accenture) here.
Wall Street’s boys-club problem
The gender gap in finance was back in the news last week when Citigroup disclosed that its female employees earn 29 percent less than its male employees globally. “It’s no secret that women are lagging behind their male counterparts in the financial industry,” CNBC reports. “But it’s not just about a pay gap—there are also fewer females working in the business.” Women account for less than 17 percent of senior leaders in U.S. investment banking, according to a Catalyst study released last year. And Morningstar found that less than 10 percent of all U.S. fund managers are women. “Wall Street’s been a boy’s club forever,” Ritholtz Wealth Management’s Blair duQuesnay told CNBC. “Whatever we’ve been doing to try and encourage more women hasn’t worked. So I think we need to shake it up and try something different.” Last week, in an op-ed for The New York Times, she pointed out that while years of research show female investors outperform men, women still only account for 20 percent of financial advisors. “Our clients are women too. Women are half of the population and they are only one-fifth of advisors, a number that hasn’t changed in the 15 years that I’ve been doing this,” duQuesnay said.
Gender differences in top career regrets
When it comes to Americans’ biggest career regrets, there are significant differences between men and women and the types of risks they take. Zety, an online resume builder and career site, surveyed 1,000 American workers about career regrets and job satisfaction. The three of the most common regrets for women dealt with money: not negotiating a higher starting salary, choosing a field that didn’t pay very well, and not being aggressive enough during raise negotiations. Significantly more men than women regret not working harder, not maintaining their network, and not taking more initiative. “This data directly echoes what I’m seeing in my career and executive coaching practice focused on the advancement of women in business,” writes Kathy Caprino in a Forbes blog post. “I’ve seen that many women show a deeper reluctance than men to negotiate powerfully for themselves, ask for more money and responsibility, go out on their own, pursue highly lucrative fields and join more risk-intensive ventures such as start-ups.”
The link between Brexit and gender balance
The United Kingdom’s looming skills shortage may be eased by increasing the gender balance in the workforce, argues Avivah Wittenberg-Cox. “If companies want to lessen the pressure of losing European employees, they may want to let their gaze wander to the other side of the kitchen table,” she writes in Forbes. “Women remain an under-utilized and under-supported resource in the UK. Brexit will raise the stakes – and the cost – of mismanaging half the country’s potential labor force.” The UK’s female employment rate is at 71 percent, compared to 80 percent for men. Wittenberg-Cox points out that increasing female employment levels to that of Sweden’s (75 percent) could boost the country’s GDP by 9 percent (£170 billion). “May 2019 be a gender-balanced year for your company, tempering the storms of Brexit with a sea of balanced talent,” she concludes.
Female CEOs more likely to be fired than males, study finds
According to a new study in the Journal of Management, female CEOs are dismissed at a much higher rate than male CEOs. Researchers from four U.S. universities looked at data from publicly traded companies between 2000 and 2014, including press releases and databases such as ExecuComp and BoardEx. They found that female CEOs were 45 percent more likely to be fired than their male counterparts. More interestingly, the gap was only evident at companies that were performing well, notes Fortune’s Kristen Bellstrom. “So, what’s going on? [The researchers] suggest that when a company is performing badly, the decision to fire the CEO is often clear-cut,” she writes. “But when it’s doing well, there is considerable ambiguity about the CEO’s leadership of the firm and no clear script for the board to follow. In that situation, board members are more likely to fall back on the gender stereotypes and decide that the female CEO doesn’t have the ‘leadership qualities’ needed to continue the company’s winning run.” Bellstrom admits this is bleak news, but believes it is worth studying. “Research like this sets us up to anticipate and perhaps influence those [ambiguous] moments and—most importantly—brings them to the attention of those whose bias has the power to wreck companies and careers,” she concludes.
Internships key to closing gender gap
A robust and inclusive internship program can be a gateway to increasing gender and other types of diversity within an organization, argues Joan Kuhl in this ForbesWomen op-ed article. “Businesses need to create a path to success for female employees at all levels,” she writes. “An internship program that targets and cultivates entry-level female employees can lay the groundwork for this success at your company.” Kuhl shares four tips for creating an effective internship program for recruiting and retaining women: 1. Actively seek out female candidates by partnering through organizations that connect diverse students with employers. 2. Invest in training to show female interns they are valued and a part of the company. 3. Connect interns with other employees to provide them with greater insight into the types of career paths available to them. 4. Provide access to C-level executives to give female interns visibility and empower them to reach new leadership heights. “Not only do internship programs give employers access to a large pool of potential hires, they can also leverage current interns and alumnae as brand ambassadors to support recruiting efforts and maintain a steady flow of new talent into the organization,” Kuhl writes.
Why women leave banking
“Women leave [banking] for many reasons, but young women look up and either see too few people like them in senior roles or, worse, too few opportunities,” argues Cate Luzio in this American Banker op-ed. A 20-year veteran of the industry, she believes that leaders in banking need a bottom-up and top-down approach to growing the pipeline. “You can’t miss the obvious absence of women across all levels in banking,” she writes. “If we don’t push for hiring more, we will never reach gender parity. We won’t see any change at the top unless we make progress throughout.” Instead of relying on spearfishing, Luzio believes banks should be grooming talent within the organization for bigger roles. When it comes to recruiting, she recommends looking outside the box and expanding the selection of schools and majors. In order to retain women, banks need to create an environment that allows them to envision a career path; one that they find inspiring. “When you get to a certain level, and you are confident in yourself and your work and know what you want, putting up with the undermining office politics and lack of support starts to feel like a toxic situation,” Luzio writes. “We are less likely to stick around because we have other things that matter to us. It shouldn’t have to be like that.”
Creating a workplace that works for women
In this ForbesWomen piece, Michelle King shares three tips from Cheryl Eisen, CEO of Interior Marketing Group, to create work environments that support women to thrive. Women make up 75 percent of IMG’s employees and 76 percent of the entire leadership. 1. Be intentional about your culture. “Build a culture of growth and support. We tout that we’re this fempire. We are women managers and we are women employees, I think that really helps in being emphatic in terms of how we deal with each other,” Eisen told King. 2. Hire people who fit the culture. Eisen says her company does interview men, but adds that men from male-dominated industries such as finance might find her company’s culture different. 3. Maintain the culture by advancing employees. “I think statistically it shows that women are less likely to be promoted into management roles in large organizations than men are. I think if you change that and give women opportunities to grow they’ll thrive,” Eisen says.
Trust is key to reducing the workplace gender gap
In this Forbes piece, Henna Inam shares the highlights of her interview with Sally Helgesen, co-author of How Women Rise, about what she sees as the state of trust among genders, particularly in the workplace. Helgesen says while the trust gap may not be widening in general, it does remain acute in some organizations. “The primary causes in my experience are the continuing paucity of women at very senior levels and the disparities in how women are still often paid,” she says. “This last has the potential to be toxic, especially when a woman learns after years in a job that a man at a comparable level–– or even a level or two below–– is being paid more for similar work. When that happens, the women in the company lose trust in their leadership, and it becomes very hard to regain.” Helgesen says companies are running out of excuses when it comes to the lack of women in senior leadership roles. “It used to be considered a pipeline issue, but many companies have now been hiring at parity for nearly two decades. For a while we heard about a supposed “ambition gap” but research has disproved that one,” she says. “Women’s expectations today are higher, and that is all to the good. But when those expectations are routinely disappointed, women tend to lose trust in their organization’s leaders.”
California becomes first U.S. state to mandate women on boards
California has become the first state to require publicly traded companies to include women on their boards of directors. The Sept. 30 measure requires at least one female director on the board of each California-based public corporation by the end of next year. Companies will need up to three female directors by the end of 2021, depending on the number of board seats, Time reports. They can be fined $100,000 for a first violation and $300,000 for subsequent violations. India, Germany, Australia, Norway, Spain, France, Italy, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, the Netherlands, Belgium and Israel already have similar mandates. Maureen Kline, vice president of public affairs and sustainability for Pirelli Tire North America, believes the state made the right move. “Women have plenty of intellectual talent and leadership skills, by any measure, yet are under-represented on corporate boards. Better talent on the board can translate into better decisions for the company and better performance,” she writes in this Inc. guest blog post. “As cultural norms continue to evolve, we need more women in leadership positions acting as role models. Young women need to know there is a place for them at the top. California will lead the way.”
IMF: The world needs more women in finance
According to “Women in Finance: A Case for Closing Gaps,” the newest study from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), greater inclusion of women as users, providers, and regulators of financial services would have benefits beyond addressing gender inequality. “Growing evidence suggests that increasing women’s access to and use of financial services can have both economic and societal benefits. For example, in Kenya, women merchants who opened a basic bank account invested more in their businesses. Female-headed households in Nepal spent more on education after opening a savings account,” IMF Blog notes. The paper also looked at the gaps between the numbers of men and women in leadership positions in banks and in banking-supervision agencies worldwide. It found that women accounted for fewer than 2 percent of financial institutions’ chief executive officers and fewer than 20 percent of executive board members. “The analysis suggests that the presence of women as well as a higher share of women on bank boards appears associated with greater financial resilience,” write the authors of the study.
To drive innovation, improve gender diversity
According to Ravi Saligram, CEO of Ritchie Bros., diversity in the workforce not only brings a rich flavor to an organization, but also is a must to drive innovation. “Unfortunately, gender discrimination, whether conscious or unconscious, may get in the way and leave a business dull and bland,” he writes in this Chief Executive op-ed piece. Saligram cites a Harvard Business Review study, which found a statistically significant relationship between diversity and innovation. According to the study, companies with above-average diversity also have higher innovation revenues. “This serves as a proof point for the need for a robust and proactive diversity and inclusion plan,” he writes. “A diverse culture can help guard against group think, increase the scale of new insights and identify the right employees who can tackle a company’s most pressing problems.” Saligram believes change must start at the top, by adding more women to senior management roles and leadership positions. He also lists several other recommendations to improve gender diversity across the workforce. “Having a commitment to providing an environment where all employees are treated with fairness and respect and have equal access to opportunities for advancement based on merit, skills and aptitude is the path forward. It starts at the top, but it must cascade, with consistency, throughout the organization to stir the pot and create a flavorful stew that is the catalyst for long-term change,” he concludes.
Drop in female CEOs causes stir
Earlier this month, The New York Times noted that the number of women running the top publicly traded companies is going down, not up, and suggested this should “raise all sorts of soul searching about what’s happening in corporate America.” CNN Money followed with “Female CEOs are rare. Two in a row is almost unheard of.” According to Kristin Rowe-Finkbeiner, executive director of MomsRising, these news articles should raise a red flag. “A 25 percent decrease (in women who are CEOs of Fortune 500 companies) is a big blow, especially considering how hard it is to even get into a room that might have a glass ceiling in the first place,” she wrote in an opinion piece for CNN. The glass ceiling is still solid for women, argues Rowe-Finkbeiner, who make up only 5 percent of CEOs and 21 percent of senior VPs in Fortune 500 companies. “All of this must change. And that change starts with you: Not everyone can apply to be CEO, but we can all use our buying power to support corporations that are reaching toward equity,” she writes. “Use your voice, your money, and your vote to break through that bulletproof glass ceiling. Let’s make it rain glass.”
New research finds gender balance crucial in bank boards
According to new research by Alison Miles, a lecturer at the University of Plymouth’s Business School, women in top roles in financial services behave in a way that may have made the global banking crisis less likely. Miles presented her findings to a House of Commons Treasury committee and the UK’s Banking Standards Board. The research, conducted over a five-year period, compared the leadership characteristics of male and female top executives of global banks from 1999 to 2017. Miles then compared them with the leadership styles of the executives in the 16 banks that failed or needed a bailout after the crisis. The research shows the leadership styles of top male executives at the failing institutions featured “alpha male” characteristics such as arrogance and hubris. Senior women leaders tended to show characteristics such as commitment to values and an internal moral compass. The research reveals the latter were absent in the failing banks. “In the 11 years since the financial crisis, the world has continued to see global banks embroiled in scandal and losses, despite an increased focus on banking standards and reforms designed to improve market discipline. Evidence is growing to suggest that the leadership styles of senior board members, both male and female, is a crucial element to be considered,” Miles said.
Gender gap in finance doesn’t exist according to men
According to a new CNBC and LinkedIn survey, seven in 10 male respondents working in financial services believe that “men and women are promoted at an equal rate.” Seventy-five percent of men in finance also believe that men and women in equal roles are paid the same at their companies, while only 40 percent of the women surveyed think the same. “Workers agree that there is a bias in the corporate culture of finance that continues to hold women back. Yet there is disagreement between men and women — as well as senior leaders and entry-level associates — on whether the industry is changing,” CNBC reports. “Even if you do the same amount of work as a guy, it’s like you have to work harder,” a female managing director at a prominent investment firm in New York City told LinkedIn. “Then you have to talk about it all the time and you have to talk about it with more people.”
Business schools look to attract more women to finance
According to the Financial Times, despite years of efforts from leaders in financial services, the industry is still having a hard time shedding its “pale, male and stale,” reputation. The article notes women account for less than a quarter of the senior staff at 25 of the world’s largest banks and hold only a fifth of executive committee roles at 50 U.S. financial services companies. “Many of the world’s most influential business schools, have also recognized that gender imbalance among students may have contributed to the problem,” the FT reports. “But they also realize they can play a role addressing it.” While the number of scholarships aimed at female MBA participants has increased over the last decade, progress on recruiting has been slow. The Robert H Smith School of Business in Maryland has set a gender-parity target for 2020 and has increased its female-candidate population from 36 percent in 2015 to 39.5 percent this year. London’s Imperial College Business School has gender equality as one of its 10 strategic priorities, and has seen the number of female MBAs rise to 44 percent in four years.
Europe’s central banks lag in gender equality
According to Benoit Coeure, a European Central Bank (ECB) Executive Board member, both the ECB and its member banks need more women in leadership positions. Just one of the six policy makers on the current Executive Board—which is appointed by European-area governments—is female and since its establishment in 1998, only three women have served on the board. “The imbalance has long been an embarrassment even in the male-dominated world of central banks,” Bloomberg reports. Of the 19 central banks that make up the ECB’s governing council, only one institution in the region—in Cyprus—is led by a woman. “Our profession increasingly struggles with a lack of diversity—something that may also affect public acceptance and, hence, trust,” Coeure said at a recent bank conference. “The measures to increase the number of female managers can help address the problem closer to its root—and it will make us a better central bank.”
Women in the workforce help grow the economy, study finds
According to a new report by the Paris-based Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), getting more women into the workforce helps generate economic growth. The OECD points to the success of Nordic countries as compared with the rest of the organization’s 35 member countries, Bloomberg reported last week. Female employment rates in the Nordic region range from 68 to 83 percent compared with the OECD average of 59 percent, according to the study. The organization estimates that this shift in the workforce has added as much as 20 percent to economic growth per capita. Angel Gurria, the secretary general of the OECD, told Bloomberg the key to the region’s success was a “continuum of support to families with children,” including “generous paid-leave for new parents; subsidized and high-quality early childhood education and care; and out-of-school-hours care.” “I see no reason why other countries shouldn’t be able to copy the Nordic model,” said Henriette Laursen, head of the Danish Centre for Research and Information on Gender, Equality and Diversity.
Go beyond hiring for gender equality
Speaking of women in the workforce, in this guest blog for Forbes BrandVoice, Kip Soteres talks about how organizations can welcome more women and become true advocates for them. Here are three things men in leadership positions can do to improve workplace gender equality beyond hiring more women: 1. Be sure to have the right perks, benefits and work environment to retain them (track turnover carefully to assess whether cultural or other factors are driving them away). 2. Champion less, listen more (support women in leadership and challenge them). 3. Create more resources and networks (establish a centralized forum to provide feedback and insights). “Men can be a part of this momentum by advocating, listening and supporting these efforts,” Soteres writes.
Gender gap narrows for female bankers in Brazil
Three international banks have named women to head their operations in Brazil, Bloombergreported last week. In February, Goldman Sachs Group Inc. named Maria Silvia Bastos Marques chief executive officer for Brazil, while Credit Suisse Group AG nominated Ana Paula Pessoa to a seat on its global board, the first Brazilian to hold that post. In March, Deutsche Bank followed suit by picking Maite Leite as its new country head. However, “it’s a different story at the nation’s three biggest local banks, where recent progress has yet to land a woman in one of the top spots,” Bloomberg notes. Banco de Brasil SA has no female executives, while the other top banks, Banco Bradesco SA and Itau Unibanco Holding SA only feature women descendants of the firms’ founding families. “One day, looking back, we’ll be ashamed seeing how things are today in terms of diversity,” Banco do Brasil Chief Executive Officer Paulo Caffarelli told Bloomberg. The article cites a 2016 study by Oliver Wyman, which found Norway, South Africa and the U.S. lead in the percentage of female executives in financial services.
Equal Pay Day 2018
Equal Pay Day symbolizes the date until which women must work full-time to earn the same amount that men earned the year before. This year, Equal Pay Day is April 10, meaning women would have had to work an extra 99 days to match what men earned by the end of 2017. In this Forbes blog post, Tanya Tarr looks into a new report by PayScale, a cloud compensation software company, for solutions to close the gender pay gap. “The persistence of the overall gender gap remains a concern and might be due to two structural factors: fewer women in leadership positions, and breaks in employment due to primary caretaking responsibilities,” she writes. The PayScale report found that women aren’t moving up the leadership ladder at the same rate that men do. Men are 70 percent more likely to be in C-suite roles in their mid-career and 142 percent more likely to be in leadership roles in the later part of their career. PayScale’s report also found that women are more likely to take longer breaks from the workforce to take care of children or other family members. The report suggests organizations should address gender issues directly; audit pay practices; examine the gender ratio of leadership positions; and be transparent about equal pay policies.
‘Getting to Equal’
Accenture’s CEO for North America Julie Sweet and Chief Leadership and Human Resources Officer Ellyn Shook were interviewed by Jeff Frick, host of theCUBE, SiliconANGLE Media’s mobile livestreaming studio, during our event in San Francisco to highlight International Women’s Day—Creating a Culture of Equality. They discussed the key findings of our recent report, “When She Rises, We All Rise—Getting to Equal.” Shook told SiliconANGLE that she found the research groundbreaking. “Never before have I seen a piece of research that looks at the cultural aspects of an organization and really helps to articulate very transparently the biggest accelerators in a culture for equality,” she said. Sweet outlined the three key revelations of the study: “The first is bold leadership: companies like Accenture who set targets and have CEOs who are very clear about their priorities. The second is comprehensive action, policies and practices that are really effective. Third, which I think is often under-focused on, is an empowering environment. In companies with these factors, women were five times more likely to advance to director or senior manager, and men were two times more likely.” Watch theCube’s full coverage of the event here.
How to get more women into the insurance workforce
When it comes to gender equality in the insurance industry, there is still more work to be done, according one female industry expert. “I think we are doing a better job than we used to at identifying high-potential individuals and making them stay engaged – but it is not a one-time thing, it really needs to be part of an organization’s corporate culture to ensure that women are supported and there is a network for them,” said Kelly MacDonald, SVP for Aon Risk Solutions, in an interview with Insurance Business last week. MacDonald, who will be one of the panelists at the upcoming “Women in Insurance” conference in Toronto, believes that one of the biggest struggles for women in insurance is the lack of mentors. “If we look at senior leadership in lots of large insurance companies and large brokerages, it’s still largely men,” she said. “I’d say that brokerages have done a better job with gender diversity, and some of the smaller boutique firms have been good at supporting women.” The industry as a whole is lagging behind in leveling up female executives, she says, reminding insurers that most organizations that have a more diverse board achieve better results.
Promoting gender diversity in fintechs
March 8 was International Women’s Day, which also coincided with the Finovate Europe 2018 Conference held in London. At one panel, a group of women executives in fintech gathered to discuss how the industry has evolved, how to move forward and the importance of male colleagues getting involved in diversity initiatives. Julie Muhn, Finovate’s senior research analyst and panel moderator, pointed out the number of women representing startups at the conference was at its highest this year – 21 out of 68 companies, or 31 percent. Magdalena Kron, Head of Rise London and Open Innovation VP for Barclays, said she was optimistic about gender diversity in the fintech world. “It’s never been such an amazing time to be a woman in fintech,” she said. “There are VCs proactively looking for women entrepreneurs.” Benedetta Arese Lucini, Oval Money’s co-founder said she believes eliminating the unconscious bias in hiring will be key to increasing gender equality in fintech. “Most CTOs are men, so they tend to hire more men,” she said. “It can’t be just about the C-suite, we need company-wide diversity targets.”
How ‘Fearless Girl’ statue reshaped corporate boardrooms
Last March, Boston-based State Street Corporation erected the ‘Fearless Girl’ statue in front of Wall Street’s ‘Charging Bull’ in order to highlight the lack of representation of women in corporate boardrooms. A year later, the asset manager announced that more than 150 companies targeted for not having any female directors have added at least one, reportsAmerican Banker. “We still have a long way to go but we’re happy to see the impact we’ve had so far,” said Rakhi Kumar, who leads environmental, social and governance investment strategy at State Street. “This is about diversity of thought and backgrounds. Women could be 50 percent of your customer base, and 30 percent of your employees. How are you representing the views of half of society?” The number of companies in the Russell 1000 Index without any women on their boards has fallen to 47 from a recent high of 176 in 2009. After focusing on 787 companies in the U.S., U.K. and Australia without a female director in 2017, State Street added boards in Japan and Canada to the target list this year, Kumar said.
Gender equality leads to stable returns for investors
According to the World Economic Forum, the top three gender-equal nations are Iceland, Norway and Finland. The region’s biggest bank, Nordea, told Bloomberg last week, “A key contribution that women make to the companies they run is stable returns.” Nordea’s researchers analyzed returns on capital employed by 100 of the largest companies in the region over a 12-year period and discovered that doubling the number of women on boards and in top management led to more stable returns. “Now that the pace of change has increased, the pressure on these management teams and on these boards is greater than before,” said Johan Trocmé, director of research insights at Nordea, in an interview with Bloomberg. The Nordea study also found the Nordic companies with the most women outperformed their European peers. “Norway has led the way for the others to see this is actually do-able without the world going under,” Trocmé said. “If you have a board of directors which is 100 percent white males aged 45 to 65 with the same sort of upbringing and ethnicity, will they take in and weigh and consider all the inputs from society, from the economy, from the customer base, from the regulator, when they make decisions?”
Gender equality in management
How has gender equality in the U.S. workforce progressed over the last three decades? William Scarborough analyzed U.S. Census data from 1980 and 2010 and derived three major trends. “Women’s representation in management is higher than it’s ever been,” he writes for Harvard Business Review, citing women obtained 2.6 million management positions of the 4.5 million created since 1980. However, the ‘not-so-good news’ according to Scarborough is the fact that the rise is accompanied by a large increase in the occupational gender segregation of managers. “In 1980 not a single management occupation was majority women. By 2010, however, we find that some occupations are female-dominated while others are male-dominated,” he writes. The bad news? Scarborough found the occupations where female managers were concentrated by 2010 were also those with the largest gender wage gaps. “I found that the shifts in managerial gender equality are extremely complicated — with progressive change in one measure coupled with backward tendencies in others,” he writes.
Closing the gender gap in tech
“Women within the tech sector in Silicon Valley make up as little as 11 percent of the region’s executive roles and a mere 20 percent of software development roles,” writes Navreet Singh in this WilsonHCG blog post. “The gap can and should be bridged.” Singh has a six-step roadmap to recruit more women into tech: 1. Uncover career aspirations (take the time to gain true insight into the different career aspirations, working styles, and personal goals of candidates). 2. Gather data (review recruitment ratios by gender, as well as analyzing diversity statistics and the sourcing tools chosen for recruitment). 3. Know the marketplace and competitors’ strategies (research and gain clarity around the markets in which we recruit, as well as what our competitors are doing to attract women). 4. Know and openly discuss your brand (present what the organization has to offer in terms of benefits, cultural perks and career paths). 5. Strategic marketing, precise messaging (market with carefully written, accurate job descriptions, career pages, social media language, benefit documents, and so on). 6. Avoid unconscious bias (start the conversation around diversity and inclusion, listen and learn from your people as well as the talent landscape and, however small, take action today).
Davos 2018 made women a C-suite topic
As journalists and thought leaders across the globe continue to analyze the trends and highlights of the 48th Annual Meeting of the World Economic Forum, gender equality continues to make the headlines. “It was the first WEF annual meeting to be chaired entirely by women. It was also the first to take place during a time when, by the WEF’s own metrics, women’s progress toward parity with men had begun to move backwards,” CBS MoneyWatchreported last week. Barri Rafferty, CEO of Ketchum, told CBS, “This year, female topics – whether it was pay equity, equality – really moved from the side room and being an HR topic to being a C-suite topic.” Rafferty recalled being “frequently mistaken” at previous gatherings as the spouse of an invited guest. “For a long time, the yearly gathering was another demonstration of women’s under-representation, so much so that the meeting’s organizers put in place their own quotas back in 2011 to try to remedy the problem,” according to CBS. “While the WEF meeting – like the rest of the world – has a long way to go to reach full parity between the sexes, it has taken center stage in the discussion.”
Tackling the gender gap at Davos
“Women’s roles in both society and the workplace were one of the key themes in Davos this week,” writes Gay Flashman in this WEF blog post. “Finally a panel, not a manel,” was a memorable quote from WEF co-chair Christine Lagarde, referring to the all-women leadership of the conference this year. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also made the news with his special address to Davos. “I’m talking about hiring, promoting and retaining more women,” Trudeau said. “Not because it’s the right thing to do, or the nice thing to do, but because it’s the smart thing to do.” Nobel Peace Prize laureate Malala Yousafzai underscored the importance of education when it comes to closing the gender gap. “When we talk about feminism and women’s rights, we’re actually addressing men,” she said. “Men have a big role to play … We have to teach young boys how to be men. In order to be a man you have to recognize that all women and all those around you have equal rights and that you are part of this movement for equality.”